City guide: Edinburgh, Scotland | Private jet charter
Edinburgh is in a class of its own. Home to the Edinburgh Arts Festival, fabulous whisky tasting, a fascinating Old Town, Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury hotels including The Balmoral.
Top five must-see sights and attractions
Royal Yacht Britannia
Explore all five decks of this most famous of ships which sailed more than a million nautical miles across the globe, and was home to the British Royal Family on their foreign state visits, and private holidays.
All the ship’s clocks have stopped at 15:01 – the exact time HM The Queen was piped ashore for the last time on 11 December 1997. Refreshments are on the Royal Deck Tea Room where the Royals also enjoyed their receptions and afternoon tea. Don’t miss the Rolls-Royce Phantom V displayed in the purpose-built garage.
Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile
Edinburgh Castle dominates the city’s skyline from its rocky crag high above Old Edinburgh. The views from here are superb – all the way to the Firth of Forth and beyond – and over Edinburgh’s gardens and major landmarks. It’s a steady walk up from Princes Street, or hop in a taxi and alight at the Esplanade just before the drawbridge that takes you into the castle proper.
The castle is guarded by a moat and a portcullis gate built in the late 1500s. Look out for the statues of Scottish heroes Robert The Bruce and William Wallace. Inside the castle there’s plenty to see including the Royal Apartments, the Crown Jewels and Stone of Destiny and The Great Hall.
If all that history makes you peckish, stop for refreshments at the Queen Anne Tearoom or for a heartier snack, head for the Red Coat Café. As you leave the castle walk straight ahead down the Royal Mile. A gentle downhill stroll passing through Old Edinburgh and its narrow alleys and tall buildings will lead you to Holyrood House Palace – the Queen’s residence in Scotland.
Royal Botanic Garden
Located on the northern side of Edinburgh, the city’s Royal Botanic Garden has 70 acres of horticulture to explore with flora and fauna from across the world. A staggering 13,000 types of plant are on show here and there’s a delightful Victorian glasshouse. Orchid lovers will make a bee-line for the tropical house with its exotic varieties, while the specialist gardens include a terraced moorland, a woodland and a heather garden. There’s also an aquatic house featuring tropical plants.
Admire the views of Edinburgh Castle from the Terrace Café in the centre of the garden. There’s also the Gateway Restaurant by the west entrance and a contemporary art gallery at Inverleith House.
Dan Brown fans will want to make a pilgrimage to enigmatic Rosslyn Chapel. Made famous in Brown’s 2003 book The Da Vinci Code, and the 2006 movie of the same name starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou, the chapel now receives thousands of visitors a year.
In 2007, the Chapel was awarded a £4.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland which paid for major conservation work and the establishment of a visitors centre. The Lady Chapel is beautifully decorated – look out for the ‘dance of death’ face which is allegedly Robert the Bruce’s death mask – and venture down the steep flight of stairs to the Sacristy.
National Galleries of Scotland
Just along from The Balmoral hotel, the Scottish National Gallery has an outstanding collection of works such as Titian, Vermeer, Gaugin, Botticelli, Turner, Monet and many more. Scottish artists are also well represented with works from Ramsay, McTaggart, Raeburn and Wilkie.
Around 65,000 pieces of artwork are on show at the National Portrait Gallery including the celebrated frieze of Scotland’s most famous personalities: Robbie Burns, Mary Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie and many more.
Scottish National Gallery is home to the country’s largest display of European art (Renaissance onwards) and sculptures. As well as a sprinkling of Post-Impressionist work.
Scottish Gallery of Modern Art include works from Matisse and Picasso, to Magritte, Ernest Miro and more modern artists such as Callum Innes and sculptures from Gwen Hardie, Moore, Hepworth and Hockney.
Once in Edinburgh you’ll find the city centre is fairly compact and easy to navigate on foot. For an easy way to see the sights, hop on one of the red double decker City Sightseeing buses. A hop-on hop-off ticket lasts 24 hours. The bus route includes Grassmarket, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood House, Nelson’s Monument, the National Museum of Scotland and many more.
Best time to visit
Edinburgh has generally good weather between May and September, though come prepared for rain and wear layers, as the weather can change rapidly.
The most popular times to visit Edinburgh are over New Year’s (Hogmanay) when the city is a riot of celebration and during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe held in August. The world-famous Edinburgh Tattoo takes place at this time as does the Book Festival and the International Festival – making it an action-packed month to visit Edinburgh. Festivals at other times of the year include the Film Festival (June), the Science Festival (April) and the Jazz and Blues Festival (July).
Edinburgh has it all, it’s a vibrant festival city with the Fringe, film and book festivals to name a few. Its compact size and efficient transport connections make it easy to get around and it boasts an unrivalled historic legacy.
Visit Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, buy shortbread and tartan along the Royal Mile, enjoy afternoon tea on the Royal Yacht Britannia, picnic in the Botanic Garden and immerse yourself in art at one of Edinburgh’s fine National Galleries.
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